I had the good fortune of sitting in on a meeting this past weekend sponsored by the Killington Resort Homeowners Association. Chris Nyberg, new President of Killington was asked to speak and answer questions about the plans for the mountain and the Killington resort. Chris spoke and answered questions for about 90 minutes.
First, I will say that Chris seems to be highly qualified for the position and seems highly approachable. He has over 30 years experience in the ski industry in a wide range of activities, including building a ski area from scratch to his most recent role as Vice President for Bombardier, a world-wide leading provider of snow cats and heavy equipment for the ski industry.
Much of the discussion centered around the priorities of the new management of the resort. Chris emphasized that the new owners will invest this year, what American Skiing Company (ASC) has spent at Killington in the last two years combined. He also emphasized that Powdr's track record is re-investing in areas that make money (i.e., what is made in Killington will stay in Killington). After stating that he feels that "Killington is an icon, the gem of the East" and has tremendous potential," Chris summarized his impression of the condition of the resort by saying that "this place [Killington] is getting a bit old."
In the short term, the priorities will be:
Overall Appearance and Improving 1st Impressions
- "We will polish the resort up over the summer"
- "We will put new toilets in Ram's Head for the women"
- "We will focus on upgrading small things that will help make a good 1st impression"
- "Improving the customer experience"
- We will also spend a lot of money on snowmaking system improvements (underground pipe) that may be invisible to the general public
- Steve Selbo, President of SP Land will be moving the Act 250 process forward
- No real infrastructure changes are expected to occur until at least Spring/Summer 2008, although it is likely that we will see "stakes and ribbons" up and around in the next 3-4 weeks
- What's closest to the "lifts" will most likely be built first
In general, the exchange between Chris and the audience was very upbeat and optomistic. As one would expect, attendees made an effort to forward their particular "hot buttons" such as re-energizing the philosophy of "1st to open, last to close", etc. and extending the attractive season pass rates.
I think what we will see is a careful examination of the economics of each decision, many of which we will not "see" for a while.